Cotswold Canals Connected
Canal and River Frome INNS Control
The Cotswold Canals Connected (CCC) project aims to link up the Stroudwater canal from Stonehouse to Saul Junction. Alongside restoration of the canal itself the project has the potential to make a significant contribution to biodiversity by providing new habitats, and by re-forming an important link between the River Severn in the west and the valleys of the Cotswold escarpment in the east.
A key part of the work will involve managing the existing species along the route.
What is INNS?
A non-native plant species is one living outside its native distributional range and which has arrived there through human activity (deliberate or accidental). Only a small proportion of non-native species have the potential to cause damage to the environment, the economy, our health and the way we live and these are known as Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).
What is the project hoping to achieve?
The removal of INNS, and in particular Himalayan Balsam, along the canal and Lower Frome. This will increase the diversity and connectivity of native marginal vegetation, improving the habitat for our native plants and animals.
Why Himalayan Balsam in particular?
Once Himalayan balsam has taken a hold it forms dense strands, which crowd out native plants from growing. Furthermore, it has nectar rich flowers which tempt bees away from native wildflowers so these are less likely to be pollinated and produce seed. Many native riverside plants have strong roots that remain throughout winter, binding banks together and preventing erosion. In contrast, Himalayan Balsam dies off completely in winter leaving banks open to being worn away by water.
What can be done to help prevent the spread of Invasive Non-Native Species?
With cooperation from willing landowners, suitable resources and dedicated people a significant effort can be made to help protect our native plants and animals. One of the most effective ways to control the spread of INNS is to pull young plants out by hand.
In June and July 2019 CCC will be running local volunteer work parties along the canal route to help control Himalayan Balsam.
If you would like to join the volunteer parties and spend some time in the sunshine (not guaranteed!) helping to look after and protect our rivers and canal, please contact the Canal Environment Manager:-